How to Start a Surveillance Business

by Gregory Gambone; Updated September 26, 2017

Working in the security industry can be exciting and lucrative, and owning your own surveillance company can be even more rewarding. The clients and their jobs can be very interesting and profitable. If you have the ability to run your own business, and you want to work in an industry that is always changing and exciting, a surveillance company may be just what you’re looking for.

Items you will need

  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Computer
  • Vehicle
Step 1

Obtain the proper licenses and permits. Running a surveillance business can be equated to running a private investigation operation, and most states require licensing of all private detectives.

Step 2

Purchase the equipment necessary to begin surveillance. Depending on the type of clients you acquire and their project requests, you may need to videotape or photograph the activities of another person, follow a person or vehicle and document the destinations, or stake out a particular building. Your business needs to be prepared to immediately handle the acquisition of a new project.

Step 3

Market and advertise your business. Depending on your budget, you should place small advertisements in the classified section of your local newspaper, tape or staple fliers in conspicuous places around town, build a website, place a listing in the yellow pages, or record commercials for radio and television stations.

Step 4

Meet with new clients and discuss projects. If your advertising is effective, potential customers will begin contacting you to inquire about your company’s services and the prices for your surveillance.

Step 5

Create contracts and agreements. When you agree on the terms of a project with a new client, sign appropriate documents detailing the client’s request and your obligations for the project. These contracts will also help protect you and your company from prosecution for any stalking charges that may be brought against you in the event that a subject discovers your operations.

Step 6

Begin the surveillance and recording of your subject’s activities with photographs, videos and detailed notes. At the conclusion of the project, provide these items to your client and receive final compensation for your company’s efforts.

Warnings

  • Surveillance activities may be construed as stalking and result in criminal complaints or legal action from subjects. Do not engage in surveillance without proper licensing from state and local authorities.

    Conduct surveillance activities only from public locations. Even with proper licenses, you are not permitted to trespass or break into locked areas to perform your duties.

About the Author

Gregory Gambone is senior vice president of a small New Jersey insurance brokerage. His expertise is insurance and employee benefits. He has been writing since 1997. Gambone released his first book, "Financial Planning Basics," in 2007 and continues to work on his next industry publication. He earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University.